Integration is hospitality

The University of Glasgow has launched a new UNESCO Chair exploring the integration of refugees into local communities through languages and the arts.

The UNESCO Chair in Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts was officially launched following inaugural lectures at both the University of Glasgow and a Barn in a Perthshire field, where over 170 refugees gathered with 5,000 others for the annual SOLAS Festival. The Chairs inauguration broke with convention, sharing the space with artists from the Global South, the Ha Orchestra and the extraordinary young dancers of the Noyam Institute for African Dance.

The Chairholder, Professor Alison Phipps, emphasised hospitality as a fundamental aspect of integration. She suggested that integration is a shared activity for all, a way of improvising and devising new futures and one that relies on all our creative capacities in languages and the arts, harnessed for the “making of peace in the minds of women and men.”

The event marked the start of Refugee Festival Scotland 2017 and opened with a welcome from University of Glasgow’s Senior Vice-Principal, Neal Juster, and an overview of UNESCO activities in the UK by the Chair of the UK National Commission for UNESCO, Dr Beth Taylor. Dr Taylor highlighted how history has proven that international cooperation in science, culture and communication can promote lasting peace.

Dr Beth Taylor said:

“Congratulations to Professor Alison Phipps and the University of Glasgow for its new UNESCO Chair in Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts, and for joining the prestigious UNESCO Chair programme and network. UNESCO’s networks are a powerful mechanism for collaborating with colleagues across borders – especially in the developing world – to tackle the challenges they face, and promote the intercultural dialogue which is fundamental to UNESCO’s mission of building genuine and lasting peace.  Alison’s UNESCO Chair is now a vital link in building that network in the field of refugee integration.”